IBJNews

Acting Indiana chief justice Dickson picked to head court

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A panel voted Tuesday to make longtime Justice Brent Dickson Indiana's first new chief justice in 25 years after other justices said he was suited to bring stability to the state's judicial system amid the most turnover the Supreme Court has seen in decades.

Dickson, 70, is the longest-serving current member of the five-member Supreme Court and has been the acting chief justice since Randall Shepard retired in March.

Three of the other four justices told the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission they supported Dickson taking over as chief justice. The fourth, Frank Sullivan, who is leaving the court to take a teaching position this fall, didn't address the panel.

Dickson will be leading a court in transition since it is expected this fall to get its third new justice in less than two years after no turnover for more than a decade. It could even get a fourth new member, since Dickson said Justice Robert Rucker hasn't decided whether to seek another 10-year term this fall.

Rucker said that with so much change, the court needed some stability.

"It's my view that with so much uncertainty ... Justice Dickson as acting chief justice has been that steady hand," Rucker said. The court's newest members — Mark Massa and Steven David, both appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels — also recommended Dickson for the top job.

Massa said the appointment of three new justices in 24 months had brought "unprecedented change" and made continuity vital.

"To me, the commission made the right and natural choice. Brent Dickson is universally respected and has earned the complete trust of his colleagues and lawyers statewide. Any other selection would have been a surprise," Daniels said in a statement.

All three justices stressed that the chief justice does much more than write legal opinions and build consensus on the court — he also is the chief administrator of the state's court system, overseeing five judicial agencies and a myriad of initiatives ranging from programs to help attorneys deal with substance abuse or other personal crises to a long-term move to computerize the state courts and put their business online. Dickson, they said, was the best person for the job.

But Dickson, who has served on the court since 1986, told reporters after the vote that he hadn't initially wanted the position until he was talked into it by judges and other government officials.

"There was a growing number of voices that persuaded me to let myself be considered. We're facing an immense change in personnel on the court and our employees needed to know that stability was going to reign," Dickson said.

"They asked me to at least be willing to serve for a period of time, and I said OK," he added.

Dickson said he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 in July 2016, before his five-year term as chief justice expires, but he wasn't sure if he would continue to serve as chief justice until then. "It kind of depends on a lot of personal issues, the issues of filling out the court, getting the vacancies filled. ... It will be sometime between now and July of 2016," he said.

Dickson, who grew up in northwestern Indiana's Hobart, was an attorney in Lafayette when Gov. Robert Orr appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1986. Dickson is one of three current justices who were appointed by Republican governors.

Daniels appointed then-Boone County Judge Steven David to the court when Justice Theodore Boehm retired in 2010. Daniels picked Mark Massa, his former chief counsel in the governor's office, in March to fill the vacancy from Shepard's retirement.

Sullivan, who was appointed in 1993 by Democratic Gov. Evan Bayh, plans to retire this summer to take a teaching job at Indiana University's McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. His replacement will be the third justice to be appointed by Daniels, leaving Rucker as the only Democratic appointee on the court. If Rucker steps down this summer, Daniels could appoint a fourth justice, matching the number appointed by Bayh two decades ago, and shifting the court to entirely Republican appointees.

But justices said Tuesday that politics had no place on the court. "We've never had a D versus R debate," Rucker said. "We've never had anyone come in with an agenda."

Dickson said it was especially important for the chief justice to avoid partisan politics so he could work with both parties in the Statehouse. "The chief justice must be seen as politically neutral," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Hello Dear Are you tired of Seeking Loans and Mortgages,have you Been Turned down constantly By your banks and Other Financial Institutions or Micro Finance scheme. This is let you know with 100% guarantee that we Offer loans ranging from $1,000 Minimum to $1,000,000.00 Maximum at 3% interest rate per Month. We give out LOANS for developing business. a competitive edge/business expansion. email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com We offer the following kinds of loans and many more; * Personal Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Business Loans ( Unsecured Loan) * Consolidation Loan * Combination Loan * Home Improvement * Xmas Loans for contact to seek for loan email this email address: michealscottloan124@gmail.com Thanks

  2. My name is Mr Henry Josh and i live in the USA California and life is worth living right now for me and my family and all this is because of one man sent by GOD to help me and my family, i once had a life filled with sorrow because my first SON needed a kidney transplant and all our savings were going towards his medications and this normally leaves us with no money to pay our bills or even put enough food on our table and our rent was due and no funds to pay these bills and life felt so unfair to me and every night my wife will cry herself to sleep every night until one day, i was browsing through yahoo answers and i saw a striking advert of a man that gives out personal loans and that the offer is opened to all and i have heard so many things about internet scams but at this point of my life, i was very desperate and ready to take any risk and at the end of the day, i applied for this loan and from one step to another, i got my loan within 12 hours through bank transfer and you know, it was all like a dream and i called Mr Daniel Jones A Man who is the GOD sent lender i found and said, i have received my loan and he smiled stating that to GOD be the glory and i was so shocked as i have never ever seen anyone with such a GOD fearing and kind heart and today, i am the happiest man on earth because by GOD’S grace, my SON kidney transplant was successful and today he is healthy, i and my family are living very comfortable and happy and if you are in my former situation or in serious and legitimate need of a loan, you can reach this GOD sent lender via fidelityloanfirm@outlook.com

  3. Greetings to everyone reading this comment!!! I am Greg William by name. I am out here to recommend the effort of Mark Oscar,I was in need of a consolidation loan amount of 50,000 and as soon as I got in contact with Mark Oscar Loan Firm on Wednesday last week and on Friday last week as well I receive an alert from my bank(Royal Bank of Scotland Group) that the fund was transferred,I want everybody on this site to contact Mark Oscar now via email on how to get a loan because I got my loan from them and I am very happy,so contact them now. Oscarloanfinance@hotmail.com Thanks!!!!!!

  4. Elected officials, like Mourdock, get vested in 8 years. It takes 10 years for all other public employees, most of whom make a lot less money. So much for the promise to finish out his term.

  5. Great state treasurer and a good man!! Just curious if the folks who didn't quite understand his quote would like to tell my daughter-in-law that God didn't intend her! Mourdock's comment was correct but twisted and the article didn't mention that his opponent and the press let the impression stand that Mourdock meant that the rape was intended. Stupid people!!

ADVERTISEMENT